Here is the presentation I gave to my group after finishing the project. Advertisements Continue reading Cathedral Row, Richmond VA: The Movie!
What makes our row on South Cathedral Place isn’t just the history of who built it and who lived there, but the style. The row combines the best of the Modern French, Queen Anne and Italianate into it’s own cohesive Freestyle cluster. The Freestyle became a pattern in itself in many instances in the Fan. Even prominent defining elements of passe architectural styles, such as the Mansard roof, were prominently incorporated into desirable house patterns through the early 1900s. Here is the excerpt from my paper on this topic:
Try summoning the Spirit of Styles Past at Shafer’s row, and we are inundated with a profusion of exotic flavors and motifs. Is this a mishmash or an intentional blend? The leading handbook for understanding American architecture, A Field Guide To American Houses, is helpful in instances of stylistic cohesion, but it doesn’t do us any good in identifying the fusion happening here. The Spirit of Styles Past will show us that in Richmond’s Fan District, from the late 19th century through well into the 20th century, production builders followed a new industry model of deliberate blending of style to fashion a “cohesive contradiction” in middle class house patterns.
Arguably the most prominent feature of the row is the Modern French or Second Empire mansard roofline, housing a third story on the front portion of the dwellings, a technique ideal for urban town house designs. But, is it a surprise to see this element applied in 1889 Richmond? A Field Guide to American Houses identifies the span of popularity of this style from 1860-1880, “with late examples not uncommon in the 1880s.” But here we are pushing 1890, with the replication of this element far from being finished in the Fan District of Richmond. A near duplication of the mansard-roofed row was executed in 1895 Continue reading “The Freestyle dominates the Fan – UPDATE”
The week of October 12 came and went so quickly I again didn’t get everything on my list crossed off for this project or my “real” job. No surprise, it seems to be the pattern these days. The following details, though, I am happy to report:
VCU Facilities Management has electronic versions of “rough” plans for the row, and has been so kind to share their files. This will be a great addition to the project.
More importantly, Dr. Brownell and I have identified an early ancestor to the porches, found in Victorian Architecture: Two Pattern Books by A.J. Bicknell & William T. Comstock. This book reprints the 1873 edition of Bicknell’s plans with 75 plates and Comstock’s 1881 edition with 80 plates. A close cousin to almost every element of the porches are shown across these two books, including the “teeth” – as we were calling them – below the frieze, and as Dr. Brownell realized perhaps are actually a simplified version of lambrequins, as these plates seem to make more clear.
This presence points towards an elaboration of the Italianate element that derives from antiquated Venetian awnings, and promoted by A.J. Downing in his 1842 Victorian Cottage Residences, highlighted on page 116, and his 1850 Architecture of Country Houses, on page 316.
In reviewing all of these findings related to the ancestory of the porch design, we really began asking ourselves “Who designed this?” If appears to be someone who has the ability to arrange forms effectively but doesn’t necessarily Continue reading “Another week over too soon: Update”
Last Thursday I was so fortunate to publicize my project to the folks at Siewers Lumber & Millwork, who were very willing and eager to share their company history, which began in 1884. I contacted Richie Siewers about help with the millwork design of the porches on 811, 813 and 817 South Cathedral Place upon … Continue reading New Friends at Siewers Lumber
Yesterday I received my photocopied reprint of the 1890 Norwalk catalogue compliments of the Antique Doorknob Collectors of America. On page 197, I came across our bronze lock plate! And, thus was able to confirm that the aged number 6843 on the back was read correctly, and was in fact the style number for that item. What’s interesting was this particular design was found across a wide range of items, from knobs to doorbells, drawer pulls, etc.; anything that was bronze – or iron – hardware. Continue reading “Norwalk Catalog Arrives”
As I’ve driven around over the past few weeks I find myself paying less attention to landmarks and more to the architectural details of the homes I pass, specifically porches. Every so often my eye catches some familiar lattice work and I conduct a sudden turn at the nearest intersection to go around the block for a second look, most often resulting in a super-stealth photo session. I revisited many of these sites again and again, and have compared their details to that of the three porches existing on 811, 813 and 817 South Cathedral Place. I believe their manufacturer to be the match of possibly two other sites. The other porches I have come across exhibit variants in detail that make me believe they are from other manufacturers. However, uncovering the manufacturer of at least our row has yet to materialize. Continue reading “Matching Porch Styles Around Town”
Went through a 1970’s reprint of John Leighton’s Suggestions On Design, offering just over 100 plates (1000’s of drawings) of motifs he designed. Came across a match identified as Moorish with the cubic overlapping and interlacing ornamentation terminating with a floral motif. Many of the Moorish designs also suggested a variation in texture in the … Continue reading An element of the hardware ID’d